Fox Fusion Attempts To Boost Cable News Sites' Ad Revs, Traffic With Help From WSJ Sites

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Just in time for next month's TV upfront, Fox will begin unveiling a new ad sales program designed to match up media buys along its cable channels and online news sites, Mediaweek reports. Dubbed "Fox Fusion," the effort promises to transfer the advertising attraction derived from WSJ's print and online versions to sister News Corp. (NYSE: NWS). cable properties Fox News Channel and Fox Business News. While the deal extends control over some WSJ.com ads, Fox Fusion will not overlap the brands within Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, FoxSports.com and AmericanIdol.com. Instead, it applies to segments under the news division, such as mobile and covers sites within the whole WSJ Digital Network, including WSJ.com, Barrons.com, MarketWatch.com and AllThingsD.com.

-- Video's a game-changer: The initiative's top priority is to boost ad sales on its cable channels' websites by placing more of those properties' videos on WSJ.com. Online video sold through WSJ Digital Network commands hefty $90 CPMs. Paul Rittenberg, SVP of advertising sales for Fox News Channel and FBN, thinks that the cable nets can increase that ad value somehow: "Streaming video on the Journal's site could be a game-changer. The one thing Fox News can do that no one can argue about is good video. And WSJ.com really doesn't do that."

-- Driving traffic's another game: The closer ties among WSJ.com, the WSJ network and the two Fox news sites is also intended to drive traffic. The Fox News and FBN sites lag behind rival CNN.com, which averages around 37 million monthly uniques, according to Nielsen Online figures. FoxNews.com got 8.5 million unique monthly visitors in March while FBN got 1.5 million uniques; CNNMoney.com delivered about 10 million during the same month. CNBC was slightly behind FBN with 1.4 million uniques. Still, the numbers game is a tough one to sort out. For example, last week Portfolio pointed out that while WSJ.com internal traffic numbers claimed the site had 15 million uniques in March, Nielsen NetRatings recorded only 6 million uniques in February. (WSJ told us that internal Omniture numbers for March showed The Wall Street Journal Digital Network with 25.5 million visitors and 493 million page views and WSJ.com with 15.8 million visitors and nearly 165 million page views.)


By David Kaplan